Category Archives: Films Released in 1973
HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER-United States-1973
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Ernest Tidyman
Wait a minute; I’m reviewing a western movie on a horror movie blog site? It’s not the first time. As you recall I reviewed The Quick and the Dead here on this very blog. High Plains Drifter is a bit different from your traditional westerns. I like to call it “The Ambiguously Supernatural Western” I even came up with a catchy jingle for it:
High Plains Drifter
The Ambiguously Supernatural Western
It’s ambiguously supernatural
And it’s a Western
So why do I refer to the film by such a lighthearted moniker? The best answer to that would be because it is. Throughout the entire film I found myself wondering whether or not The Stranger (Clint Eastwood, screw the usual list of two or three previous films; you know who he is) was a vengeful spirit come to the town of Lago to exact revenge on the men who murdered him and the townsfolk who stood by and let it happen. The beginning and ending scenes are identical in that they show The Stranger appearing and disappearing in the distance as if he manifested and dissipated from thin air. There are also flashback sequences that will lead one to believe that if Sam and Dean Winchester had been alive in the Old West they would have been salting and burning the Stranger’s remains to rid Lago of his pesky spirit.
Of course, this being a western it must contain the things that one would find in a western. Let me expand on that; this being a Clint Eastwood western it must contain the things that one would find in a Clint Eastwood western and it does just that. As the Stranger, Eastwood is all steely-eyed cool as he guns down one man after the other and still has time to rape the womenfolk. I don’t condone the action of rape; but I do feel that this action helps to flesh out the character of the Stranger that much more. In between these activities the Stranger has time to put the town through its paces even to the point of painting it red and calling it Hell.
High Plains Drifter is Eastwood’s first western as a director and his second film overall. It is an offbeat film in the genre and that’s just the way Clint wanted it. After three classic films as the Man with No Name; he proves that he was paying attention to Sergio Leone and has indeed made a classic of his own.
One of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.
The Bible verse on the wall of the church is Isaiah 53:3-4 which reads, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”
Shortly after the film’s release, Clint Eastwood wrote to John Wayne, suggesting that they make a western together. Wayne sent back an angry letter in reply, in which he denounced this film for its violence and revisionist portrayal of the Old West. Eastwood did not bother to answer his criticisms, and consequently they did not work together.
Its seven minutes before Clint Eastwood says a word of dialogue, despite being in the film from the very first frame.
The first rape scene in a Clint Eastwood film, and he’s the one committing the act.
- The Drifters on Grooveshark (grooveshark.com)
- How To Sleep After Scariness! (time4sleep.com)
- That mysterious lake in the Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter (markosun.wordpress.com)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique (cobbledtoolbox.wordpress.com)
- Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel (hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com)
- Alienation (aumparasamgate.wordpress.com)
- Daniel McGuire’s Vision: Las Vegas Earthquake (hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com)
- Blaise Pascal (hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com)
- Cops Called To Clint Eastwood’s Home In ‘Swatting’ Prank (contactmusic.com)
- Clint Eastwood’s Take on a “Good Western” (westernsreboot.com)
THE WICKER MAN (1973)-United Kingdom-1973
Directed by Robin Hardy
Written by Anthony Shaffer
This is one of those times that I wish I had a thesaurus. I would use it to find the words to describe “The Wicker Man.” It would seem that the word ‘bizarre’ would be the first word that would come to mind. Yes, but that is a word that is used quite frequently to describe movies and books and music that we either don’t understand or that we refuse to understand. I’ve got a better word for “The Wicker Man”: masterpiece. It is a film that goes above the norm for not only horror films, which it most definitely is; but also for films in general terms.
Edward Woodward is Sergeant Howie, a man of devout Christian beliefs who travels to Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. His beliefs are a polar contrast to the pagan teachings of the people of the island and every time he gets close to the truth he is instead lead down a path of deceit. The film culminates with him being played the fool one final time and understanding the truth about the people of Summerisle and that is all I will say about that. To go any further would risk the reveal of an ending that is still as shocking today as it was in 1973. It must be seen to be believed.
Christopher Lee has gone on record as saying that his role as Lord Summerisle is indeed one of his greatest of roles and it is easy to understand why. Lee, like Vincent Price, has always had a penchant for chewing the scenery instead of being a part of it. In “The Wicker Man” he maintains a balance that is nothing short of extraordinary. Edward Woodward is equally brilliant in his role as Sergeant Howie. I don’t know what Woodward’s beliefs or religious preferences were, but I can assure you that the role was a testimony to his profession as an actor. Woodward makes us believe in Howie because he believes in Howie.
I cannot even begin to bestow enough accolades on “The Wicker Man.” It is a surrealistic film that is both psychedelic fever dream and old school horror combined in a neat little package. See it.
A body double was secretly used for the naked rear shots of Willow dancing. The scenes were filmed after Britt Ekland had left the set. The body double was used because Ekland would only agree to topless shots of her body. After shooting was over, not only was Ekland furious to learn she had been doubled in some shots but that she was also a few weeks pregnant in that scene. Director Robin Hardy says it was Ekland herself who did not want her bottom to be filmed, as she did not like it.
Christopher Lee agreed to appear in this film for free.
Although the film is set in Scottish territory and all the characters are meant to be of Scottish nationality, all five of of the leading cast are not Scottish: Christopher Lee andEdward Woodward are English, Diane Cilento is Australian, Ingrid Pitt is Polish and Britt Ekland is Swedish.
- Pissing Up the Wrong Tree (mraybould.wordpress.com)
- The Wicker Man (speculativefictionweblog.wordpress.com)
- DVD Of The Week: The Wicker Tree (2010) (heropress.net)
- Still doing the rite thing – a Wicker Man sequel at last (independent.co.uk)
- Exclusive Interview: Writer/Director Robin Hardy on The Wicker Tree, Completing his Trilogy and More (dreadcentral.com)
- See Christopher Lee Talk About Working With Robin Hardy on The Wicker Tree DVD (dreadcentral.com)
- Burning Questions for Robin Hardy as Paul Reaney interviews. (allthingswicker.wordpress.com)
- Edward Woodward, 1930-2009 (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Review: THE WICKER TREE (thepeoplesmovies.com)
- Wicker double bill to screen at National Arts Festival in S.Africa with DIrector Q&A (allthingswicker.wordpress.com)
- Robin Hardy talks Wicker Trilogy (allthingswicker.wordpress.com)
- A Religion Not of Benevolence, but of Egocentrism: ‘The Wicker Tree’ (Review) (popmatters.com)
- Celebrate The Wicker Tree on UK DVD and Blu-ray with a Special Evening with the Director (dreadcentral.com)
Directed by John Hough
Screenplay by Richard Matheson and based on his novel “Hell House”
Alright, I may be taken to task for this one, seeing as how Richard Matheson is so revered among genre fans; but I can’t help but feel that “The Legend of Hell House” is one continuous bore. Here I was hoping for a film that would be similar in tone to the masterful “The Haunting” and instead I get a film that spends more time talking about whether the house is haunted that attempting to prove that it is. “Hell House” is what would occur if, instead of Al Capone‘s vaults, Geraldo Rivera had decided to stay for one night in a ‘haunted’ house and what he would have found. The only interesting thing about the film is that you’re never really sure if the former (now deceased) resident of the house, Daniel Belasco, is responsible for the evil of the house due to his own immorality and debauchery (cool word); or if the investigators and their own hang-ups are the actual cause.
The performances in the film are good, albeit subdued to the point that I wonder whether or not the cast was partaking in illegal substances. Pamela Franklin’s performance as medium Florence Tanner is so laid back that it’s practically narcoleptic. Roddy McDowall is the only exciting performance in the film as the sole survivor of the last attempt to ascertain the secrets of Hell House. This is a guy who’s been there, done that and has the t-shirt to prove it.
If you want to see a great haunted house film then by all means see “The Haunting”. For great Richard Matheson stories then I suggest you read “Prey” or watch Spielberg’s “Duel.” If you want a guaranteed cure for insomnia then “The Legend of Hell House” is the prescription for you. You can probably even get it over the counter.
- 10228 Haunted House finally officially announced! (brickextra.wordpress.com)
- The Legend of Hell House (1973) (cinemascoping.wordpress.com)
- Danny Elfman On Scoring For Tim Burton: Silence Is Golden (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- The First Official LEGO Haunted House Arrives in September, and It Is Glorious [Video] (kotaku.com)
- Radio play about electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire (boingboing.net)
- the christian alternative to halloween…HELLOWEEN (thewearypilgrim.typepad.com)
- The Other Great Performance in the Movie (moviemorlocks.com)
- Stir of Echoes (1999) (journeysinclassicfilm.com)
- Lego Gets Haunted This Fall (dreadcentral.com)
- Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS is not the film Harry thought it was based on the trailers!!! (aintitcool.com)
- The Human Race to Premiere at 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival (dreadcentral.com)
- More Gough (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- “The Hostess from Hell” – Holland House Part Two (ellaquinnauthor.wordpress.com)
- Stone Tape Duel (infocult.typepad.com)
THE ASPHYX-United Kingdom-1973
Directed by Peter Newbrook
Written by Brian Comport
Based on a story by Christina Beers and Laurence Beers
In 1982 I had been discharged from the United States Air Force and was living in Plattsburgh, a small town in upstate New York. I met a young man there who was the film critic for the local newspaper. We became good friends as it seemed that we were both fans of horror films. My friend owned an 8mm projector and every Friday night at a local bar whose name I cannot remember he would show a different film. Because of him I was able to see films such as Brides of Dracula, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and the film that is the subject of this review, The Asphyx.
The Asphyx can only be declared as a cautionary tale. If immortality were in our reach as it is for Sir Hugo Cunningham, would we be wise to accept it? As he photographs a person at the precise moment of death, Sir Hugo notices a dark smudge on three different photographs that were all taken with different equipment and at different times by different photographers. Hugo comes to the conclusion that the smudge is the person’s soul, or Asphyx; and that if he can trap it and control it that the person will become immortal.
The film raises the question of immortality and whether or not we have the right to achieve it; and if we do then at what price? We would never die, but we would watch as our loved ones pass away one by one until we are alone. I for one cannot say that I would want such a thing. What of remorse or guilt? Isn’t death supposed to be the final end to those emotions? The Asphyx asks these questions within its story line, but it leaves us to form our own conclusions. Personally, I feel that’s the best thing it could have done.
Looking back, after I left Plattsburgh I lost contact with my friend. I hope he is doing well. I miss those Friday nights with Dracula, Captain Kronos and of course, The Asphyx. I wonder if this review is my way of thanking him.
- ASPHYX Frontman Talks ‘Deathhammer’ In New Audio Interview (roadrunnerrecords.com)
- ASPHYX: ‘Deathhammer’ Video Released (roadrunnerrecords.com)
- AICN HORROR looks at new horrors ZOMBIE DAWN! HELL’S LABYRINTH! 7 BELOW! BREAK! A look back at THE ASPHYX! Plus the short film THE BEAST!!! (aintitcool.com)
- Ugly in the Morning: Napalm Death + Asphyx Full Album Streams (metalsucks.net)
- new Asphyx video from new LP (‘Deathhammer’ debut) (brooklynvegan.com)
- ASPHYX’s ‘Deathhammer’ Lands On German Chart (roadrunnerrecords.com)
- ASPHYX Frontman Talks ‘Deathhammer’ Album In New Audio Interview (roadrunnerrecords.com)
- Former ASPHYX Guitarist’s GRAND SUPREME BLOOD COURT Signs With CENTURY MEDIA RECORDS (roadrunnerrecords.com)
- Asphyx, Deathhammer (sawtoothwave.com)
- Cinemetal Round-up: New Videos From Asphyx, Halestorm, in Defence, Product of Hate, and Capsule (metalsucks.net)
- Review – Asphyx – Deathhammer (thesodashop.wordpress.com)
Badlands is the motion picture as National Treasure. Its influence has been felt through the years in films like Monster, True Romance and the highly underrated Kalifornia. The first lines of Bruce Springsteen‘s Nebraska are awash with imagery of the first meeting between Kit and Holly.
I saw her standing
On her front lawn
Just a twirlin’
I and she went
For a ride, sir
And ten innocent people died…
Yes, the song is about Starkweather, but the imagery is all Terrence Malick and Badlands.
Finally, and it should go without saying, Badlands is the motion picture as a masterpiece. I’m just going to leave it at that.
The actor that originally had to play the man that rings at the rich man’s door did not show up, so Terrence Malick played it himself, although the intention was to use this part only temporarily.
Although Charlie Starkweather had been executed when the movie came up for production, Caril Fugate was still alive and facing parole, prompting the filmmakers to change the names of the principal characters to avoid a lawsuit.
Don Johnson auditioned for the part of Kit.
- The Skin I Live In, The Descendants and Badlands at The Strand through Jan. 12th (thevalleyvoice.org)
- My Top 10 Favorite Films Outside the Horror Genre (jmountswritteninblood.com)
- Terrence Malick’s BADLANDS May Come to Criterion; Director Working on an Extended Cut of THE TREE OF LIFE (collider.com)
- 8 Actors Who Have Never Been Nominated For An Oscar (buzzfeed.com)
DON’T LOOK NOW-British/Italian-1973
Directed by Nicolas Roeg
Based on the story by Daphne Du Maurier
If you so much as blink while watching “Don’t Look Now” you will have missed major plot points which occurred in that millisecond. I should know. I turned my head away for a second and something happened on screen and I was lost. Luckily, the film is of the type that it leads up to something. In this case that something is the fate of one of the main characters. Everything from point A to Point B is meant to lead us to that moment.
After experiencing the heartbreak of losing a child in an accidental drowning, Laura and John Baxter travel to Venice where John is hired to restore a local church. Laura meets two women, one of whom is blind and claims to have second sight. She says that Christine, their deceased child, is with them and that she is happy. I don’t want to say anything more because I feel that it will give away the ending. The film works as an occult horror film, but it’s really a film about the grief suffered after losing a child and the effect it can have on a couple.
I must admit I had heard all sorts of good things about the film and was looking forward to seeing it. Having seen it I can honestly say that it is a very good film. My only complaint is that it moves a bit too slow and tends to be tedious at times. Besides that, though, it has a strong cast in Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and excellent directing from Nicolas Roeg. The film is not only made to keep you guessing the entire time, but to make you think. You don’t see that very often in a horror film.
The famous sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie was a last minute on-set idea from director Nicolas Roeg who felt that otherwise the film would have too many scenes of the couple arguing. Most of the scenes around it are improvised.
Renato Scarpa who plays inspector Longhi didn’t speak any English. He just read the lines he’d been given without knowing what they meant, which added to the sinister quality of his character.
Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie met for the first time on the set of this film. The first scene they had to shoot was the sex scene, as Roeg wanted to “get it out of the way” and then move on to the “bone” of the matter. Christie was terrified.
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by Hal Dresner and Daniel C. Striepeke (story)
When I was a kid the movie Sssssss scared the jeepers out of me. It wasn’t the whole thing about a guy slowly turning into a King Cobra after being injected with serum by a mad ophiologist (that’s a guy who studies snakes for those of you without a dictionary handy). What scared me is the scene where the doctor’s daughter is at the Carnival Freak show and recognizes the snake-man as being the last guy that had been working with her dad on the experiments. He disappears suddenly and everyone assumes he’s left town. It scared me to think that a person can be right under your nose and still not be able to communicate with you and tell you where they are or what’s happened to them. To me, to vanish like that is worse than death itself.
Sssssss is one of those films you feel ridiculous pronouncing, but have fun watching. The main cast consists of Dirk Benedict as the hapless guinea pig to Strother Martins’ mad snake doctor. Heather Menzies is the doctor’s lovely daughter as well as the love interest to the guinea pi—I mean young man. The acting in the film teeters at the top without going completely over. The special effects are cheesy but are still believable. All in all, Sssssss is an entertaining film in the mad scientist category. If you are a fan of the horror films of the 1970′s then this should be one to watch out for when you’re searching through the discount bins at Wal-mart. That’s how I found it and I snatched it like a snake grabs a mouse. Anybody want to buy some snake oil?
THE EXORCIST-United States-1973
Directed by William Friedkin
Written for the screen and based on the novel by William Peter Blatty
Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil
Jason Miller as Father Karras
Lee J. Cobb as Lt. Kinderman
Linda Blair as Regan McNeil
and Mercedes McCambridge as the voice of the demon.
What can be said about The Exorcist that hasn’t already been said? Other than perhaps The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, this film has recieved more acclaim and more accolades since it’s intial release in 1973 that any thing I say about it would be absolutely pointless.
So how does one review a film that is called by many ‘the scariest horror film of all time’? I don’t want to repeat what everyone else says about it. I write these reviews so that I may voice my own opinion, whether the reader agrees with it or not. If I didn’t do that I feel that I would lose the respect of you, the reader. The best thing for me to do is to tell you just what it is that this film says to me as a person, as a believer in God and as a reviewer.
When I was growing up in the South, my mother used to say that lightning was the devil behind the door beating his wife with a frying pan. An old wives tale, for sure, but one that stuck with me throughout the years.
I was eleven in 1973, the year that the film was first released. I wasn’t allowed to see the film; a ruling set forth by my parents despite the fact that I had been watching horror films since I was six years old. So, I had to wait. It wasn’t until around 1979 that I first had the chance to see the movie. I remember watching and when the scene comes up where Regan’s bed begins shaking uncontrollably the first thought that entered into my mind was ‘well, shit, the devil’s not behind the door anymore.’ The second thought was that maybe, just maybe, I would be sleeping with the light on that night. I was 17 at the time.
I feel that The Exorcist has been such a monumental success because it doesn’t just tap into our fears but instead digs deep into them to the very core of what scares us. How many stories and tall tales have we heard about the devil over the years ? The devil is behind the door. He’s under the bed. On and on. The Exorcist takes every one of those tall tales and stories and throws them right in our faces and for a little over two hours we are small children again with our eyes covering our faces and peeking through our fingers. No film since then has achieved the level of deep-rooted fear so intensely as this film has.
I mentioned my belief in God and what that means as far as the effect that this film has had on me. It’s very simple and I will quote the Reverend Cotton Marcus from The Last Exorcism on the matter. He said, ‘if you are going to believe in God, then you have to believe in the devil’. I believe in good (God), therefore I believe in evil (Satan). This is not preaching. I don’t expect every person who reads this to feel the same way I do. I am not telling you how the film affected your life; I am telling you how it affected mine.
As a reviewer and as a fan, the film affected me because I know that there is always that one film that comes along that influences, impacts and shapes the films that come along after it. Look at Goodfellas. The film is considered one of the greatest gangster films of all time, and yet it will always be overshadowed by The Godfather. The same is true of virtually any film dealing with demonic possession. Each and every one of them will be forever in the shadow of The Exorcist. The Last Exorcism, Paranormal Activity and countless other films owe their existence to this film.
I’m not even going to bother with a plot synopsis. I don’t have to. After all these years if you don’t know what the film is about then by all means rent it, buy it, whatever. Just watch it. I promise you will never be the same again.